Halloween is my time to celebrate the Washington wines that have haunted me this past year. These are some the wines that lingered in my memory long after the glass has emptied. The wines range from barrel tasting to unexpected treasures from a friend’s cellar.
- Adams Bench 2009 Sangiovese Red Willow VineyardI thoroughly enjoyed the Adams Bench 2006 Sangiovese Ursula at the release party this summer. I appreciate Tim and Erica’s patience in their winemaking but when Tim poured me a sample of the 2009 Red Willow Sangiovese from the barrel, I lost all patience. I wanted that Sangiovese now! Amazing elegance, complexity and integration for such a young wine. I am not exaggerating when I say I think it is the best sangiovese that I have ever tasted.
- Buty Winery 2005 White Bordeaux Blend
A highlight of the Wine Bloggers’ Conference was a seminar on Washington White Bordeaux Blends. The take home lesson was the agebility of Washington White White Bordeaux Blends, demonstrated beautifully with the 2005 blend. I love Caleb’s recent releases that include Muscadelle but this aged white wine was a gorgeous surprise. Food friendly acidity was complemented by silky subtle fruit and grounded by pleasing minerality. So much more complexity than expected, it was smooth and bright at the same time.
- Columbia Winery 2001 Red Willow Vineyard Yakima Valley David Lake Signature Series
This Syrah was another age treasure from Nancy’s cellar. Sipping this Washington Syrah was like tasting history in a glass but without the dust! Concentrated fruit greeted the tongue and persisted through to the long and lovely finish. Subtle spice added intrigue. This wine elevated a simple BBQ to something special.
- Gård Vintners Two Six
At Grape Cup, Robert Smasne wanted me to try his new, unreleased blend. He had brought a small portion to share with a select few. He was so excited about the wine, but I was reluctant to try it. I had just judged a lot of wines in a loud and crowded room and my palate was tired. I am so glad he talked me into trying this beautiful blend. This was the wine that I went around saying “Oh my God! You HAVE to try this!” to my favored friends. Everyone that tried it was enraptured. This blend is a very small lot with much of it already sold in futures. Two Six is a blend of Clone Two and Clone Six Cabernet fruit that will be released November 2010.
- Grand Rêve Vintners 2004 Collaboration I
During the Wine Bloggers Conference, I got to taste so many wines but one of them really stood out. At the Red Mountain post event Grand Tasting, Ryan Johnson was pouring the Grand Reve Collaboration III and IV. For those that were enthusiastically enjoying the wines, Ryan had Grand Rêve Collaboration I and II decanting under the table. I fell in love with the Collaboration I Bordeaux blend, crafted by Ben Smith. I only dragged myself to one other table at the Grand Tasting after indulging at the Grand Rêve table.
- NorthStar Winery 2002 Merlot
Last spring, Sean Sullivan and I were hanging out at The Local Vine when Cole Sisson suggested we try a Merlot. He poured the NorthStar 2002 Merlot for us. Big, black fruit tamed by the years, supported by velvety tannins, this Northstar Merlot showed elegant nuances if you took the time to savor. We slowed down to make sure that we could devote the attention that this Merlot deserved.
- Russell Creek Winery 2000 Merlot
Nancy shared this bottle at a dinner with friends and I was lucky enough to be her friend that night. It was a great feast, paired with great wines but the Russell Creek Merlot is the wine that kept distracting me. When I was sipping that wine, nothing else mattered. The conversations around me faded away as I savored the elegant fruit that persisted in this 10 year old Merlot. Layers of fruit, wood and spice were supple and beautifully balanced. It still had not peaked, it was a sophisticated mature woman hitting her prime.
- Tranche Cellars 2005 Pinot Gris
This was the year for me to discover and appreciate the beauty of age on Washington wines. The graceful maturity of Washington white wines was evident on Tranche Cellars 2005 Pinot Gris. I first time I tasted it was at a Tweet-up at Black Pearl Chinese Restaurant. The bit of residual sugar was a great match to the spice in the Chinese food. It was so good with the food that I wanted a bottle for Feast and Tweet Taste of Thai. At Taste of Thai, this Washington Pinot Gris won over even the most reluctant of Pinot Gris drinkers. It was superb with peanut sauce as well as being the perfect wine to pair with salads.
Some of the wines that haunted me in 2009, continued to please and intrigue in 2010. Which Washington wines have haunted you this year?